In our annual weeklong series, the San Diego Daily Transcript looks at the business of law in San Diego. The themes for each of day of the week include:
CHICAGO -- American Bar Association President Robert E. Hirshon announced in March the formation of an ABA Task Force on Corporate Responsibility -- a response to concerns emanating from Enron and Enron-like cases. The task force will examine issues relating to corporate responsibility that have shaken confidence in the effectiveness of the legal and regulatory systems applicable to public companies in the United States.
Practicing corporate law offers many professional benefits for attorneys. They are able to focus more attention on fewer, long-term clients, and they have the opportunity to learn about and specialize in a particular area of business. They are also able to enjoy the fast-paced environment of a new or established business, working alongside entrepreneurs.
The San Diego County Bar Association and Lawyer Referral and Information Service will host a variety of professional and community-related activities during the local celebration of Law Week from April 29 through May 4. The 2002 Law Week theme, Liberty and Justice For All, is designed to give Law Week participants a better understanding of our legal system as well as its effect on our everyday lives.
April 29, 2002
In the wake of Enron's collapse, corporate America faces increased scrutiny from stockholders and others charged with protecting investors' interests. The Enron debacle has brought a great deal of attention to the areas of corporate governance, accounting practices and public disclosure. Today, management, directors and audit committees of public companies face the prospects of increased disclosure obligations, shorter periods in which to prepare public reports, and new questions regarding the exact nature of their duties to stockholders. In the face of this increased scrutiny and resulting regulatory change, corporations will increasingly rely on legal counsel to help them navigate the obstacle course resulting from Enron's high profile implosion.
On Friday, May 3, the Vista Courthouse will be the site of educational programs for students of all ages.
The complaints are not unusual, nor are they infrequent: I asked my lawyer a simple question and I got a 10-page memo, the deal was overlawyered, I got a $5,000 bill for a bunch of bickering over discovery objections. Such complaints reflect a crucial disconnection between what a client wants and what outside lawyers deliver. As in all relationships, the disconnection is rooted in poor communication. The good news: Much can be done to remedy the problem. The most successful corporate counsel-outside lawyer relationships employ three primary principles:
About 20 years ago, companies began bringing more legal work in-house. The belief was that in-house attorneys could facilitate litigation prevention, manage legal risk more effectively than outside counsel, comply with government regulations and provide more responsive and practical business advice, all at a substantial cost-savings.
In some point in your career as a corporate attorney, you will give at least a fleeting thought as to whether you want to work within a law firm or within a corporation. The traditional path is to start in private practice and later move into an in-house position; however with the large number of biotech companies in Southern California, many attorneys with a science or technical background reverse the order. If you are considering a move in either direction, make your decision an informed and deliberated one.
CHICAGO -- The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States underscores our nation's commitment to "liberty and justice for all." But in practice, how close do we come to the ideal cut in stone over the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court: "Equal Justice Under Law"? Do all Americans have equal access to justice? Are the scales too often weighted against those who can't afford legal services?